Coming in 2018: The Lost Art Press Work Jacket

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I have two favorite garments: a beat-up motorcycle jacket for winter and a traditional French work jacket for the other three seasons.

The work jacket, sometimes called a bleu de travail, was popular in the late 19th century and the early 20th century among the French working classes – especially farmers, masons and woodworkers.

The jackets are simple, unlined and incredibly durable. They typically feature four roomy pockets – three on the outside and a fourth on the inside that usually is embroidered with the maker’s name. The only other evidence of the pedigree of the garment is usually found engraved on the buttons.

I wear mine in the shop and when working on our building. The pockets are great for holding tools and the jacket is designed to accommodate a wide range of motion. I can saw and plane in this jacket, and it moves nicely with me. In fact, many times I simply forget I’m wearing it. The more it gets beat up, the better it looks.

It’s also just nice enough to wear out to dinner (once I dust it off).

Most of the French work jackets you’ll find for sale are blue, which was the preferred color of farmers and all-purpose laborers. Management wore a similar jacket in a light grey or white. But French (and German) woodworkers definitely preferred black.

For many years I’ve wanted Lost Art Press to produce a work jacket that was faithful to the originals in every way, including the cotton moleskin cloth, the distinct stitching, the engraved buttons and even the embroidered inside pocket. And, because I’m a woodworker, I wanted to offer it in black.

So we’ve teamed up with designer and woodworker Tom Bonamici, who is similarly obsessed with these jackets. Tom has designed a work jacket based on a vintage one he owns. And last week, the factory (here in the United States, of course) produced the first successful prototype.

We are very excited.

In the coming weeks, Tom is going to share the history of these jackets, the details of their construction and how a garment goes from a cool idea to something you want to wear every day. And, in early 2018, we will offer these for sale.

We don’t have prices or a timeline yet. But all that is coming soon.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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46 Responses to Coming in 2018: The Lost Art Press Work Jacket

  1. shasebroocknebrrcom says:

    Cool!!!

  2. It is my understanding that it is from shirts such as this that we get the term blue collar (col bleu in French) to refer to the working class.

  3. Niels says:

    YES!!! I have become a big fan of the work jacket. I love mine except I wish that it had a top button that so I could fully close it up for really dusty work. Also, I really should learn how to sow on a button…

  4. Is this the same jacket that NYT’s Bill Cunningham made famous?

  5. boclocks says:

    Tom, your website has some nice pictures but it’s a royal pain in the ass to try to use.

  6. Please offer in XXXL sizes for us larger guys!

  7. Jarrod says:

    Cool!

    • mike says:

      my daughter has a workshop dollhouse. Please offer in miniature sizes as well. For the Ken doll we have standing at the dead Frenchman in the middle of the dollhouse shop.

  8. Given that my workshop is currently about 50 degrees F and getting cooler, I can use the insulation… And it’s a lot more elegant than a shop apron when you don’t need a defensive barrier.

    I’m tempted to suggest pocket linings be made of some material that will withstand additional abuse, even if they would be much too new for the style’s time period. The steampunk approach; if the look is historically plausible, it’s ok to kick the hidden parts of the technology up a few notches to make it do things the original couldn’t. But I can certainly defend “it’s accurate and it’s good enough,” too.

    Heck, if the price is reasonable, I might buy two….

  9. Eric R says:

    Sounds interesting.

  10. claydeforge says:

    SOLD!

  11. Jonathan Schneider says:

    Waxed? Thrilled!

  12. Goerge says:

    Yay! This is brilliant news!

  13. Andreas Duhme says:

    Great addition to your program. But a small correction – here in Germany, carpenters wore mostly every-day-clothes with an apron. Or they sported fancy blue-white blouses (as my beloved granduncle Franz did). They are sadly out of production nowadays. Take a look here:
    http://www.holzwerken.net/Wissen/News/Vergangenheit-zum-Anfassen/(language)/ger-DE

  14. Kevin de Silva says:

    Great picture, Now I dont want to cause a fight but I showed the picture to my other half who makes victorian clothes and she seems to think that no one in the picture is actually wearing one
    of the said jackets . I like them too and am waiting to have a new one made !!

  15. Joerg says:

    Great! I’m a german woodworker and I’ll buy one as soon as possible!!!

  16. cool, what happened to “le laboureur” ?? they seemed to have dissapeared…

  17. sswantee says:

    I worked for Michelin for 30 years, the last 10 in management positions. Of course years ago, and today somewhat, all the management wore these french work jackets (blue with the Michelin crest above the left breast pocket). I never really got into wearing the jacket at work, but since I retired in August, I have discovered just how useful it is to wear in the shop now that winter is here and the weather is cooling off. Nice big pockets for tape measures, pencils etc, and it does not restrict movement, or collect shavings and dust like a sweater would. Glad I have discovered it’s usefulness.

  18. xxxmike says:

    If you can afford the stocking costs, offer them in tall sizes as well. Coats made for average stature men and women look ludicrous when worn by tall persons.

  19. C33 says:

    If you guys can make this happen at a reasonable price point, I’m definitely in.

  20. How much will this cost? Lol

  21. Anthony says:

    Sounds like a winner, can’t wait to see it. Keep us up to date.

  22. Dan Zehner says:

    YESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES!!!!!

    Take my money already!!

  23. Corners says:

    Perhaps also a summer version – a vest – same pockets for same tools – no collar – mesh back for cool – been looking for one of these vests for a long time

  24. Dan D says:

    Tall sizes please

  25. Royce Eaves says:

    I like the picture and jackets but the woodwork in the picture is also interesting. What are they? Models?

    • joefromoklahoma says:

      I have a small book titled “A Practical Course in Roof Framing” by Richard M. Van Gaalsbeek (Frederick Drake & Co., 2nd ed., 1923) which is, in some ways, a typical book of it’s time regarding steel square work; except, that Mr. Van Gaalsbeck was the head of the Department of Woodworking at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and the construction of these sorts of models – at 1″ scale – was the preeminent teaching tool for the coursework there. The title page claims “Fully Illustrated” and its no joke – Problem 8 is an unequal pitch roof with dormers and the model is spread out over two or three benches. Doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to assume this as common trade school practice both here and abroad.

  26. joefromoklahoma says:

    And, yes, what Chris sez – I think there are at least two old texts relative to the art/discipline out in the world. If only there was a publishing house with proven experience in the translation of important woodworking tomes from French to English….sigh.

  27. mustelo says:

    Shut up, and take my money.

  28. Tim says:

    Can’t wait to see one,

  29. Steve Noe says:

    My Beloved and Darling Wife looked at the photo, read the descriptions, and agrees with Kevin de Silva’s wife.

    In fact, the description sounds like a lab coat, only not in white. One breast pocket for pens, probes, and so on. Two large outside pockets at the waist for tape, scissors, gloves, and a large inside waist pocket for extras.

    There’s a hierarchy of lab-coat lengths; the older/more prestigious people get the longer lengths. Gonna do that for your LAP coats?

    Steve Noe, in Indianapolis, who not only had knee-length lab coats, but they were stained all SORTS of colors from over the years.

  30. And you will be selling it for $275.00 because that’s what elitist wanna-be Chris Schwarz’s will pay.

  31. Allen Rudolph says:

    Great Idea, put the Lost Art logo on the pocket or across the back please. Also please consider making them in 3XL, if you do I’m in for at least one. Thanks

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